Rangoli, Diyas, and Dancing: My Diwali Traditions

Not gonna lie, my heart was in a dark place this Diwali. Actually, the entire month of October sucked.


For North Indian Hindus, Diwali symbolizes when Lord Ram defeated the Ravana, and when Lord Ram returned to his home kingdom. Simply put, Diwali symbolizes one’s journey through darkness to find the light which is my current situation. (Yes, I am comparing myself to a Hindu god. No, I am not being overly dramatic!) I’ll be studying for the February Bar Exam while my friends move on with their careers. They will be sworn-in as attorneys, while I hit the books. Although I know I am not the only one who failed, I still feel left behind. All of sudden, the light of the end of the road was pushed further away. Instead of walking toward the light, I am stuck in the same place watching the light move further away. However, my Diwali traditions motivated me to catch up to the light.

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Why We Help Others: My New Series

Coming soon to a phone screen near you!

Hi Internet,

I am starting a series called “Why We Help Others” to inspire others to create change and be charitable. I’ll be interviewing and collaborating with various organizations and people I find inspiring. The series will address the various reasons why people help others:

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The Only Nikita

Bryan Stevenson

Recently, I got to hear one of my heroes – Bryan Stevenson – speak at the Aronoff Center in Cincinnati, Ohio for the Mary S. Stern Lecture series. His lecture recapped his recent cases and his book, Just Mercy. Stevenson has influenced my career. Through his client-centered representation, I learned how to be a better advocate. His book indirectly led me to my mentor and guru, David Allen Singleton, who contributed to many of my accomplishments. (They say the mentor is only as good as the mentee. And, by “they,” I mean me!) At first, I thought I’ll be the “next Stevenson” or “the next Singleton.” However, throughout my mentorship with Singleton, I learned that I am one of kind. I will be the first and only Nikita Srivastava!

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The Lies We Tell: Happy Indigenous People Day

Fuck Columbus Day.

After randomly selecting names from a hat in my 5th-grade social studies class, ten-year-old me discovered she had to play Christopher Columbus for the “explorers of the world” class. I remembered feeling overjoyed because everyone knew Columbus’ story, and everyone in the class envied me for getting Columbus (which was a bonus). I remember costume shopping with my mother and pouring chai on my notes to make them look periodic. My mother sat in the living room folding laundry as I practiced for hours “my Columbus act.” One could say that this performance sparked my interest in public speaking, however, I felt disgusted several years after it.

My teacher gave me an A+ on my presentation. My presentation was so good that she recorded it for future reference (I hope that tape went missing). During my presentation, I talked about how I, Columbus, was a hero. I’d discovered America, found a new race, and made friends with the “less fortunate.” I founded America – this was America’s great origin story. After that presentation, Columbus became a distant memory. In middle school, we did not discuss him ever again. However, he reappeared during my 11th-grade American History Class. 

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The Brothers Trust’s Dog Club and the Lunchbowl Network

How spoiling dogs brought children hot meals and women jobs.

Paddy, Harry, Tom, and Sam Holland. (Image from Pinterest.com)

Everyone’s favorite friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, Tom Holland, started a unique trust with his family. The Holland family created the Brothers Trust to support charities who struggle to be heard. Not only is the premise different, but the trust is family orientated. Brothers Trust was set up by Nikki and Dominic Holland, parents of the “brothers”: Tom, Harry, Sam and Paddy. Although Tom is the focal point, everyone in the family is involved. This is evident through their fundraising videos and social media campaigns. Tom may be the focal point, but his family is also gets recognition for their work. For example, Nikki Holland, takes all the photos for the site. And, Harry Holland, directed a short documentary showing the positive changes they are creating in Kibera, Nairobi. Armed with dedicated volunteers and their close friends, the Holland family is determined to run several events each year to raise awareness for smaller charities. The funds raised will then be granted to charities they support. (Let me tell you all, I am here for all of this! I’m huge a fan.)

Brothers Trust mission is twofold: first, they intend to shine a light on charities whose voices are drowned out by noisy and competitive non-profit sectors; second, they intend to maximize those charities efforts by using our generous donations. The Brothers Trust does not interfere with the structure of the charities they support. Rather, they act as an ally by helping them raise funds and spread awareness.

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The Joys of Failing

Yes, I might be the first person who found the joys of failing. But, how else I am going to cope?

As someone who inspires, I must be open and honest about my journey. I am known for oversharing in times where I should keep my mouth shut. (And, this might be one of those times.) I took the July 2019 Bar Exam and failed.

Yes, your favorite overconfident Indian woman failed the Bar Exam. Of course, I was crushed. I wept for hours on the kitchen floor of my sister’s apartment. How could all my hard-work not pay off? Did I burn out? Did I not study correctly? Did I get lazy? All of these questions are not important right now. The only important one: Will I pass the second time? And, to be frank, I don’t know…

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To All My Friends Applying for Public Defender Jobs

(Image from Pinterest)

First, I love you all. You’re passionate and zealous advocates who see the humanity in the people you want to represent. That is why you’re born to be a public defender. You’re all really nervous and stressed about the application process because the job market is competitive. Also, you’re stressed because you want to become a public defender. However, I am not worried about any of you!

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With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility

Michael Sutton with his sister, Lucretia Sutton. 

During law school, I worked as fellow for the Ohio Innocence Project (OIP). Throughout my time at OIP, I realized that prosecutors have a lot of discretion. This discretion gives them a lot of power in our criminal justice system. I found the wise words of Uncle Ben from Spider-Man coming to my mind when working on these innocence cases: with this great power, comes great responsibility. (These wise words should come to many prosecutors’ minds when working on their cases.)

Michael Sutton’s case ignited a fire within me. His case inspired me to become a social justice warrior and fight for indigent people. Michael’s innocence claim showed me that social justice work is more than innocence work. His case taught me that everyone needs an advocate. And, for that, I will be eternally grateful to Michael.

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A Little Late With A Bisexual Woman of Color

Lilly Singh’s late show is a triumph! She’s knocking down all doors and breaking all the glass ceilings!

Lilly Singh (Image from Cheatsheet.com)

Bestselling author and YouTube star, Lilly Singh, first episode of A Little Late with Lilly Singh took the world by storm on September 16. Lilly started her late-night NBC show by rapping about how her show will be unlike other late-night shows. Since her melanin differs from most late-night show hosts, Lilly wants her show to reflect her individuality. Instead of the usual grey and navy blue suits that her male counterparts wear, Lilly will wear colorful outfits. She’ll add the much needed female perspective to late-night television. Lilly won’t be stereotyped nor molded into someone she’s not – Lilly will continue to channel her online persona: Superwoman. Lilly’s work environment reflected what people want to see in their place of employment today. For example, more than 50% of Lilly’s writers are women and people of color. As stated in her rap, Lilly hired minorities because she could, not because she had to. She promised that men will also have paternal leave like women had maternal leave. She promised a place where working parents can nurse their children. And, she promised equal pay for all her employees. Lilly made it clear to the world that she will be the change that she wants to see in this world.

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Cherry: Book Review – and Movie Predictions

A delightfully dark read and a must read for all social justice advocates.

Raw. Profane. Straight from a dark heart.

Sheru Srivastava cutely holding my copy of Cherry.

These are only a few ways the back of the book describes Nico Walker’s debut novel, soon to be turned into a major motion that will grace our screens.

If you’re looking for a tragic love story, then this book is not for you. If you’re looking for social commentary about the opioid epidemic in Ohio, then this book is not for you. If you’re looking for a story about redemption, then this book is not for you. Cherry is not about redeeming the protagonist, or even an in-depth analysis on his drug addiction. Instead, this book is about the main character aimlessly going through life.

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